With the 2021-22 NBA regular season now in the books, the basketball betting market is hotter than ever. CBS Sports will be providing daily picks for the duration of the postseason. Sam Quinn will make at least one pick for every game between now and the NBA Finals. All lines courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook.
I typically try to defend my picks with as much objective information as I possibly can. I'll provide some in the over/under and in the prop picks. But if you're asking me why I, the writer of this column, have bet my own personal funds on the Golden State Warriors winning the NBA championship on Thursday, it's really this simple: They can taste it. It was apparent when they separated themselves in the fourth quarter, when Draymond Green was scoring points in the first, when Jordan Poole made his second bonkers buzzer-beater of the series, when Andrew Wiggins started making every contested jumper he took. My entirely subjective memory is struggling to recall many instances of a team seemingly separating itself this deep into the Finals and not walking away with the title. The Warriors know this feeling well. They've been on both sides of it in the Finals. Six years ago, they were in this exact situation. They had a chance to close out the Finals on the road against Cleveland. They failed, and lost Game 7 at home. There are strategic and statistical reasons for me to lean Golden State, but at this stage of the Finals, you ultimately have to trust your gut a little bit. Mine is telling me that the Warriors are about to become the NBA champions. The pick: Warriors +3.5
OK … NOW we can get a little bit more objective. Let's take a look at the Boston Celtics' offense, by the numbers:
- Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown combined to average 7.3 field goals per game in the restricted area in the regular season. That figure has been cut nearly in half in the Finals, down to 3.8 per game.
- The Celtics are scoring only 98.5 points per 100 possessions -- and 82.1 points per 100 plays in the half court -- over their past two losses. These are bad numbers, but typically, when you see numbers like this, you assume bad shooting is the culprit. Nope. The Celtics made more than 37 percent of their 3-pointers in those games.
- The Celtics have allowed 103 points off of turnovers thus far in the series. That's the most any team has given up through five games in the Finals, and the Warriors need just 12 to set the overall Finals record in Game 6.
So, we have a team that's struggling to score even with its 3s falling. The Celtics are completely unable to score at the rim with Robert Williams III struggling with a knee injury. They're turning the ball over left and right. Golden State was extremely reliant on Stephen Curry to generate its offense in Games 1-4. Wiggins stepped up in Game 5. Someone else will in Game 6. But Game 5 showed just how volatile Curry's individual offense can be. Sometimes, he's just going to miss nine 3-pointers. This has been a defensive series for five games. Expect it to stay that way in Game 6. The pick: Under 210
Is Game 6 Klay Thompson a myth? Not in the slightest. If you ignore a 2019 blowout over the Clippers, Thompson has scored 25 points or more in every Game 6 he's played since 2016. He's averaging 32.2 points in those games (excluding the Clippers game), and the only ones Golden State has lost have been on the road against LeBron James and the one in which Thompson literally tore his ACL. Yeah, I'm not betting against Game 6. That he seems to have found his stroke over the past three games is the cherry on top. The pick: Thompson over 20.5 points
Andrew Wiggins deserves all of the credit in the world for his 29 rebounds over the past two games, but there's a strategic explanation for it as well. The Celtics are making such a point of drawing Kevon Looney and Draymond Green onto the perimeter in a desperate bid to generate looks at the rim that neither of them are in a position to rebound as well as they typically would. Wiggins has been the statistical beneficiary, and he will be in Game 6 as well. The pick: Wiggins over 7.5 rebounds
I played this prop in Game 5 and I'll play it again in Game 6. Through five games, Jayson Tatum has made the same number of 3-pointers (19) as he has 2-pointers (19) in this series. He can't get to the basket, which means his only chance of meeting his scoring quota is jacking up 3s. He made five of his 10 looks in Game 5. I'm expecting him to make at least four in Game 6, but on an even higher number of attempts. The pick: Tatum over 3.5 3s